Aztec Chocolate Bark

Recipe and photo contributed by Lynda Balslev Yield:  6 two-ounce servings (¾ pound total)
Prep Time:  15 minutes Cook Time:  10 minutes

Aztec Chocolate Bark

These chocolate treats are pure chocolate with the addition of Mexican spices, dried fruit, and nuts. A bit of sea salt nicely balances the flavors and heat.

Ingredients

10½ ounces (300 grams) bittersweet or dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), chopped, divided

¾ cup toasted almonds, coarsely chopped, divided

½ cup raisins

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon chili powder

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

¼ teaspoon sea salt (optional)

Instructions

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat and set aside.
  2. Fill the lower pan of a double boiler with just enough water, so that the surface of the water is ½ inch below the bottom of the top pan when it is in place. Set over low heat. Add half of the chocolate to the top pan, place it onto the bottom pan, and cook, stirring constantly. Be careful not to let the water boil and don’t let even a drop of water touch the chocolate or it will seize and become hard.
  3. When the chocolate is melted, remove from the heat and stir in the remaining chocolate until melted and smooth. Stir in half of the almonds, the raisins, cinnamon, chili powder, and cayenne.
  4. Pour the chocolate onto the baking sheet, smoothing it out into a thin, even layer. Sprinkle the remaining almonds over the chocolate, pressing them gently into the bark. Sprinkle with the sea salt if using. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or until firm.
  5. Break into pieces to serve. It will keep for up to 2 days.

Kitchen Tips

Melting chocolate can be tricky. First off, the molten chocolate can cause a painful burn, so avoid touching or splashing it. Keep the heat very low and stir constantly, to avoid scorching it. There are several methods you can use.

  • You can just put it in a pan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until it melts, but with this method, the risk of scorching the chocolate and ending up with a smelly, burned mess is higher than with other methods.

  • More often, chocolate is melted in a double boiler to reduce the chances of scorching. Keep the heat low, stir constantly and remember that the surface of the water in the lower pan should be at least ½ inch below the bottom of the top pan and should never be allowed to boil.

  • Chocolate can also be melted in the microwave, in which case, there is no need for water. Simply place the chocolate in a microwave-safe container and heat on high, stopping to stir every 30 seconds, until the chocolate is softened and can be stirred to a smooth consistency. This should take only a minute or two.

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